The College of Arts and Sciences Dean Search Details

Institutional Background and Culture

About the University of Nebraska—Lincoln

UNL Campus

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln, chartered in 1869, is an educational institution of international stature. UNL is a land-grant university and a member of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (formerly the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges). The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

A Strong Foundation

Always a place of high ambition, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln was the first institution west of the Mississippi River to award doctoral degrees–the first was granted in physics in 1896. The University of Nebraska established the world's first undergraduate psychology laboratory. The discipline of ecology also was born here and the campus's botanical gardens and arboreta reflect that tradition. An early institutional interest in literature and the arts provided the foundations for today's Prairie Schooner literary magazine, the University of Nebraska Press, and the Sheldon Museum of Art, which houses one of the world's most significant collections of twentieth-century American art in a building designed by Philip Johnson.

Rooted in these ideals, the College of Ancient and Modern Literature, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences but referred to as the College of Literature, Arts and Sciences was the first college established in 1871. Today, the College of Arts and Sciences is home to 18 departments; 44 centers, programs and institutes; 38 majors and 57 minors; and awards the bachelors of arts and bachelors of science degrees.

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln is one of the nation's top public land-grant research universities with a commitment to exceptional teaching and learning. UNL was fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 2007 and is preparing for reaccreditation in 2016.

Excellence in Undergraduate Education

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln is a research-extensive institution with an extraordinary focus on undergraduate education. Undergraduates learn from faculty who create new knowledge, who are leading scientists and scholars, and who care about students' success. In the fall of 2009, a new general education curriculum, Achievement-Centered Education (ACE), was launched for incoming undergraduates. ACE is built on student learning outcomes that answer the fundamental question, "What should all undergraduate students-irrespective of their majors and career aspirations-know or be able to do upon graduation?"

Several signature programs exemplify this commitment to undergraduate success. The Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences Program (UCARE) connects faculty with more than 400 students annually who work collaboratively on independent study projects that advance new knowledge. The UCARE program is included in U.S. News and World Report among the 33 best university programs in undergraduate research.

The Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management develops leaders for this era of expanding information technology and business globalization. These students pursue an education balanced in technology and management while developing professional skills in leadership, communications and collaboration. The University Honors Program, with more than 2,000 students in all undergraduate colleges, provides an intense intellectual experience for top students in a major research university setting. One of the few honors programs in the nation where all students engage in research and prepare a thesis as a requirement for graduation, the UNL Honors Program's successes are noted by strong retention and graduation rates and a large percentage of alumni who graduate with distinction and compete successfully for admission to graduate and professional programs. UNL undergraduates also consistently succeed in prestigious national scholarship competitions.

Research and Engagement

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln is a growing Big Ten research university with a strong tradition of research, scholarship and creative activity, and is committed to continued growth in the breadth, quality and impact of its research and scholarship. UNL boosts a robust culture of research collaborations and activity seeks to encourage multidisciplinary research and to enhance its regional, national and international collaborations. Nebraska's citizens benefit from the knowledge and research generated by our faculty and students. This research-based service to our state is a feature that distinguishes UNL as a land-grant university.

UNL is seeding major new initiatives, growing our creative activity, scholarship and research profile and nurturing strategic partnerships to address 21st century challenges. UNL's research enterprise has expanded significantly over the past decade; federal research expenditures doubled from 2002 to 2012. The campus is building on this momentum with an eye to the future. UNL is cultivating collaborations across disciplinary, institutional, state and national boundaries to solve global challenges, address national needs and enhance Nebraska's economy. The University is also expanding its international engagement through research agreements, faculty exchanges and student learning opportunities in strategically selected corners of the globe. UNL also is making strides in developing state-of-the-art facilities essential to world-class research.

  • The Voelte-Keegan Nanoscience Research Center, opened in 2012, is fueling UNL's momentum in nanotechnology and materials science. The 32,000-square-foot center houses the seven core facilities and two shared laboratories of the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience. It consolidates UNL's state-of-the-art nanoscience research facilities in a single, central location accessible to the more than 80 faculty affiliated with the NCMN.
  • An addition to the Ken Morrison Life Sciences Research Center, home to the Nebraska Center for Virology, will be finished in 2013. Focusing on viral threats to people, plants and animals, Nebraska Center for Virology scientists target some of the world's most devastating diseases. Established in 2000 as a Center for Biomedical Research Excellence with a $10.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Research Resources, NCV earned a $10.6 million renewal in 2005. In 2010, it earned a third five-year, $5.56 million grant from NIH.
  • Thanks to a unique partnership between UNL research and athletics, multidisciplinary research space is part of the recently completed expansion of Memorial Stadium, home to Husker football. Faculty members from a range of disciplines collaborate through the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, which uses cutting-edge imaging technology to better understand the brain and its links to biology and human behavior. The Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab focuses on research to improve performance and health. This partnership promises to expand our understanding of the brain and concussions, enhance health and performance research and offers a national model for such collaborations.

UNL faculty members are building partnerships with business, industry, community organizations and entrepreneurs to ensure that UNL research becomes an even more powerful driver for Nebraska's economy. UNL's most ambitious undertaking is Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC). This private-public research campus is being developed adjacent to UNL and will offer a collaborative, synergistic environment where businesses and entrepreneurs work closely with faculty and students. The first buildings will be completed and occupied in 2014. At UNL, we're building for the future to create the knowledge-fueled solutions essential to our state, our nation and our world.

Better to Best

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln is enjoying a strongly positive trajectory. In Fall 2012, for the ninth-straight year, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln was among the top 50 public universities listed in U.S. News and World Report's annual evaluation of America's Best Colleges. UNL is ranked near the top third of all national universities both public and private, (tied with four others at 101st). For the second year in a row, UNL is featured among schools that focus on student success through enriched offerings.

The State of Nebraska has been relatively immune to the deep destruction of the real estate market and fiscal institutions that have decimated other states' economies.

Nebraska has managed to ride out budget problems with far less drastic measures than many states have undertaken. The forecast for the future is moderately optimistic and quite stable, opening strategic options for UNL that may not be available to other institutions.

In 2011, Chancellor Perlman announced an ambitious set of transformative goals that include adding 5000 more students to our campus, improving the six-year graduation rate by 10%, doubling the number of prestigious competitive awards won by our faculty and increasing total research expenditures to $300 million. This initiative also includes goals for increasing the number of tenure-track faculty members, other instructional faculty, professional staff, and graduate assistantships.

  • Undergraduate and graduate enrollments have increased significantly while simultaneously enhancing the academic quality and diversity of the student body. UNL's enrollments are growing. Fall 2013 enrollment is just under 25,000, the highest enrollment since 1995. This fall we will enroll the largest freshmen class in University history. For the twelfth straight year, the freshman class academic profile increased. This freshman class's ACT composite average is over 25, and this is the most diverse class in our history with over 18 percent minority students. Nonresident students now account for 25 percent of all students at UNL. Graduate enrollment stands at 4,700, a ten-year high. UNL recorded 298,638 student credit hours in 2012, the third highest number in the history of the institution.
  • Excellent faculty hires at both the junior and senior levels have transformed academic units, while also establishing new signature programs such as, digital humanities, math education, brain biology, and materials and manufacturing. The affiliation with the Big Ten Conference and prestigious Committee on Institutional Cooperation affirms UNL's stature as a major national research university and offers potential for dramatic advances in academic quality, research prowess and institutional reputation.
  • In June 2012, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln launched "Plan Big" - the campus and landscape master plan, which will guide the University's growth over the next 15 years and beyond. Evidence of the campus' momentum can already be seen in the physical growth of the new nanoscience building adjacent to Jorgensen Hall, the new home of physics at UNL; new student housing under construction; the new East Stadium expansion that will house a the nationally prominent research initiative known as the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior. Plans for a new College of Business building, enhanced student learning space in Love Library, a revitalized Memorial Mall, and others are also underway.
  • The University of Nebraska Foundation is currently engaged in a $1.2 billion capital campaign, scheduled to close in 2014. The campaign is well ahead of schedule, including a recent $50 million pledge to establish the Global Water for Food Institute. Priorities include scholarship support for undergraduates, study abroad scholarships, and graduate fellowships; support for endowed professorships, research professorships and chairs; support for targeted and identified academic and research programs; collaborative and interdisciplinary programs; and support for campus facilities and infrastructure. The Foundation's current assets are approximately $1.5 billion. In FY 2012, the Foundation transferred approximately $110 million to the four campuses in the NU system. The College's goal within this campaign is $36 million, and to date, more than $38 million has been raised toward that goal.
  • UNL enjoys strong public support from the citizens of the state. Nebraskans value higher education and recognize that education is the key to a strong workforce and a vibrant economy. Nebraskans view UNL as "their university" and are vested in its success. The "Big Red" phenomenon helps drive alumni loyalty but is not the sole factor. Big Red lifts Nebraska's visibility nationally and allows us to compete both athletically and academically. Nebraska athletes have earned more Academic All-American awards and NCAA Top Eight Awards than any other Division I institution.
  • In 2010, UNL acquired 249 acres that formerly hosted the Nebraska State Fair to create the Nebraska Innovation Campus. The land is contiguous to the university's City Campus. The Nebraska Innovation Campus is a public/private research and technology development center that will attract business and industry interested in leveraging university research. The overarching goal is to harness the innovations of university researchers, create jobs and foster economic development.

The College of Arts & Sciences

UNL's College of Arts and Sciences empowers students with a world-class education befitting the state of Nebraska's comprehensive, land-grant, research university. The teaching in the humanities and social and natural sciences gives students the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in an increasingly complex, diverse and interconnected world. CAS is equally committed to increasing knowledge through research, scholarship, and creative activities at the leading edge of human experience, and our expertise in service and outreach furthers the interests of Nebraska, the nation, and the world. The College's guiding principle is that teaching, research, and service are inextricably intertwined, enhancing its ability to provide an outstanding education.

The College's 18 Departments and 44 Centers, Programs, and Institutes - from Physics and Astronomy to Sociology to the Center for Great Plains Studies or the Medieval & Renaissance Studies - are united in their diversity by a commitment to the value of a liberal arts education. CAS is home to nearly 500 faculty and 300 staff who are internationally recognized scholars, innovative researchers and award-winning teachers. Each are dedicated to sharing their knowledge and ideas with the College's nearly 4,700 undergraduate students and just over 1,000 graduate students.

Learn more about the College's mission and goals online at

Brain, Biology, and Behavior

Brain, Biology, and Behavior

UNL's new Center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior (CB3) is focused on research that spans domains ranging from the heritability of social attitudes to the neurological basis of human decision-making to the study and remediation of concussions in athletes and head injuries. Center director Dr. Dennis Molfese, also serves as the scientific director for the groundbreaking traumatic brain injury research collaboration involving researchers from institutions in the Big Ten, its affiliated Committee on Institutional Cooperation, and the Ivy League. This cross-institutional effort is focused on increasing understanding about the causes and effects of sport-related concussion and head injury.

For more information on the Big Ten/CIC-Ivy League Traumatic Brain Injury Research Collaboration visit

Digital Humanities

UNL's Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, a joint initiative of University Libraries and the College of Arts and Sciences, is a global leader in digital humanities scholarship. The center advances collaborative, interdisciplinary research in the humanities by creating unique digital content and developing tools for scholarly discovery. As a national leader in the field, it sponsors forums, workshops, and research fellowships for faculty and students in digital scholarship. CDRH researchers have been successful in pursuing external funding for their projects, with grant sponsors including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, among others.

Digital Humanities
Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering

More than 80 faculty members in physics, chemistry, engineering and beyond contribute to UNL's highly regarded materials and nanoscience research efforts. Our significant expertise in materials science and nanotechnology includes the Nebraska Center for Materials and Nanoscience; the National Science Foundation-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center for Quantum and Spin Phenomena in Nanomagnetic Structures; Center for Nanohybrid Functional Materials, Center for NanoFerroic Devices; and strong programs in energy sources and storage and manufacturing nanotechnology, processes and materials. UNL boasts one of the nation's leading nanomagnetics research groups and expertise in laser-assisted nanotechnology. These efforts span the Departments of Physics and Chemistry and the College of Engineering. UNL education, training and research activities in materials draw on the expertise of faculty working in nanoscience, nanomaterials and materials engineering. The new Voelte-Keegen Nanoscience Research Center provides state-of-the-art shared equipment.


The Nebraska Center for Virology, a world-renowned center supporting virology research and education, combines the expertise and facilities of Nebraska's leading biomedical research institutions (UNL, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Creighton University). The center's impact stretches across the globe as is evidenced by established research, training and outreach programs in China and Zambia. Training in virology is provided at all levels and includes mechanisms for formal and informal education.

STEM Education

STEM Education

The UNL Department of Mathematics is nationally recognized for its support for and success in research, mentoring, and interdisciplinary education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Among its many activities, the Department of Mathematics hosts a research experience for undergraduates program, the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics, and the All Girls/All Math summer mathematics camp for high school students.

The Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education supports a three college partnership (Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Sciences, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences) whose goal is to establish UNL as a leader with respect to mathematics and science education. Special emphasis is placed on mathematics and science teacher education, undergraduate STEM education that includes a growing community of scholars whose expertise is in discipline based education research, and outreach activities to strengthen K-12 math and science education in Nebraska.

Optics and Laser Physics

Optics and laser physics affect all areas of physics, many other sciences and our everyday lives. The latter can be illustrated by the advents of retail store barcode scanners, laser surgery, lasers‐based atomic clocks in GPS, etc. Ongoing research at UNL in the Diocles Extreme Light Laboratory includes exploring the ultra‐energetic, with laser energy densities currently exceeding that of the solar interior, and the ultrafast, with time resolution sufficient to "see" individual atoms move in a molecule. Optics and laser physics faculty from UNL's Department of Physics and Astronomy combine state‐of‐the‐art experimental research with powerful theoretical support.

Diocles Extreme Light Laboratory

The Position

The Dean reports directly to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, and is the chief academic and administrative officer of the College of Arts & Sciences. The Dean will join a very collaborative and supportive group of colleagues on the Council of Academic Deans. The Dean will have responsibility for the strategic, programmatic, financial, fundraising, and management operations that support the mission and vision of the College of Arts and Sciences and its role within the land-grant University of Nebraska—Lincoln.

The incoming Dean will:

  • Have the opportunity to define and implement a strategic vision of an energetic and engaged faculty, staff, and student population;
  • Facilitate the development of a relevant and distinctive identity for the College as part of the larger University;
  • Serve as a public voice to develop the reputation of the College on the national and international stages;
  • Along with department heads, assure the continued prominence of the faculty by prioritizing the recruiting and retention of distinguished faculty at all levels with a particular focus on diversity;
  • Seek out valuable collaborations with other colleges at UNL;
  • Promote and support a strong research agenda;
  • Willingly take calculated risks to achieve excellence;
  • Assure that the College continues to serve its students with academic programs of the highest quality and effectiveness, promoting excellence as well as diversity in undergraduate and graduate degree programs; and
  • Take a leading role in attracting external funding from federal agencies, corporations, foundations and interested donors to support the College's mission.


UNL offers an attractive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with the successful candidate's background and experience.

Candidate Profile

Candidates should have an outstanding academic record, an abiding commitment to excellence of undergraduate and graduate education and research, the ability to collaborate effectively with a broad range of constituencies both across the university and with external audiences, and the skill to develop a purposeful and compelling strategy that will distinguish the College of Arts and Sciences as a valuable regional, national and international resource.

She/He must be able to cultivate academic programs that demonstrate relevance, impact, innovation, and sustainability. Candidates must have a significant record of success as an administrator whose credibility, communication skills, and consultative management style can energize a dynamic, multi-disciplinary academic unit.

Highly competitive candidates will demonstrate a deep understanding and interest in the broad offerings within CAS that clearly informs her/his judgment and decision-making. She/He must show a commitment to and experience in supporting and cultivating an accomplished and diverse faculty. Candidates will have led sophisticated and effective development and fundraising activities. The successful candidate must have and continue to demonstrate the highest level of integrity.

Candidates must hold an earned doctorate, with scholarly or research accomplishments commensurate with the rank of full professor in his or her home tenure department.

Essential Leadership Characteristics

  • Creating the New and Different - Is able to come up with the next great breakthrough thing to do; is creative, a visionary, and can manage innovation; is an effective strategist full of ideas and possibilities; sees multiple futures; has broad interests and knowledge; can both create and bring exciting ideas to the institution; comfortable speculating about alternative futures without all of the data.
  • Getting Work Done through Others - Manages people well; gets the most and best out of the people he/she has; sets and communicates guiding goals; measures accomplishments, holds people accountable, and gives useful feedback; delegates and develops; keeps people informed; provides mentoring for junior faculty.
  • Being Organizationally Savvy - Maneuvers well to get things done; knows where to go to get what he/she needs; politically aware and agile; understand how to navigate ambiguous situations; presents views and arguments well.
  • Relating Skills - Warm, friendly, and interpersonally agile; easy to approach and talk to; relates well to all kinds of people; makes a pleasant first impression and builds solid relationships; collaborative.
  • Inspiring Others - Is skilled at getting individuals, teams, and an entire organization to perform at a higher level and to embrace change; negotiates skillfully to achieve a fair outcome or promote a common cause; communicates a compelling vision and is committed to what needs to be done; inspires others; builds motivated, high-performing teams; understands what motivates different people.
  • Being Open and Receptive - At ease and relaxed; easy to talk to and get to know; listens attentively; is an open book; has a positive sense of humor; deals calmly with stress and gives people a chance to catch up.
  • Evaluating and Deploying People Accurately - Reads people accurately; can diagnose strengths, weaknesses, and potential; knows what skills are required to fill a job or role; hires the best.

How to Apply

The Search Committee will begin reviewing candidates immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Nominations and applications should be submitted before January 1, 2014 electronically (PDF files preferred), in confidence, to:

Paul Chou, Senior Client Partner & Co-Managing Director, Education Practice
Korn/Ferry International
College of Arts & Sciences Dean Search

Applications should include detailed resume, a two-page statement summarizing the applicant's personal vision and relevant leadership experience, as well as preferred contact information. To ensure full consideration, materials should be submitted electronically as soon as possible.

"The University of Nebraska has an active National Science Foundation ADVANCE gender equity program, and is committed to a pluralistic campus community through affirmative action, equal opportunity, work-life balance, and dual careers."